(swiped from Yahoo!/AP)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Talk about inflation. Seth MacFarlane is Hollywood's hundred-million dollar man — and he's not even bionic.
MacFarlane, 35, is creator and executive producer of "Family Guy," Fox's top-rated prime-time 'toon (yes, even more popular than "The Simpsons"), one of the all-time best-selling TV-on-DVD titles, and a show that spearheaded the digital-download video phenomenon.
So it's no wonder the studio recently served up a $100 million production deal to keep their "Family" man happy. MacFarlane also is at the helm of the Fox 'toon "American Dad!" and is working on a "Family Guy" spin-off series, "Cleveland."
"In all honesty, my representative said I could get that much money and I didn't stop him," MacFarlane said. "Can I spend a hundred-million dollars? No. I'll spread it around a much as I can."
Spreading the wealth? Clearly, MacFarlane is an Obama man. He did some campaigning for the Democratic presidential candidate, and even took a shot at the Republican competition on "Family Guy."
In a recent episode, baby Stewie is transported to World War II Germany, clunks a Nazi on the head, steals his uniform, and puts it on. "Hey, there's something on here," Stewie says, feeling something on the jacket's lapel.
Cut to a close-up of a "McCain-Palin" button.
The gag got huge laughs at a rare public prescreening of the episode for a sold-out crowd at The Paley Center for Media. MacFarlane then sat down with The Associated Press to talk about money, politics and the future of "Family Guy."
AP: So, how does $100 million change your life?
MacFarlane: Nothing I can do can really live up to that amount of money on a daily basis, so my view of it ... (is that) I gave them all of my 20s, which are irretrievable. (I put my) heart and soul into that show, and, in turn, they give me $100 million. I think that's fair. One of those is replaceable, the other isn't.
AP: Word is the first thing you bought was a house.
MacFarlane: It's airy, open. It's not huge, not palatial. As a graduate of art school, I'm very conscious of the use of space, more than anything else.
AP: Given how much you work, does it really matter where you live?
MacFarlane: Yeah, I guess that's true. It really doesn't matter where you live because I'm never there. When I am there, I want it to have the environment of a retreat.
AP: Let's talk about what pays the mortgage: "Family Guy." What's new for the seventh season?
MacFarlane: In one episode, Stewie kidnaps the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." They (the original cast members) all came back, reunited to do their voices for us. Brian tries to legalize pot in Quahog (Rhode Island, where the show is set). Peter tells the story of his ancestry. Down the line, we have our "Family Guy" abortion episode, believe it or not. Hats off to Fox for letting us take some risks, as always. There can be a lot of trouble, but at the end of the day, they do generally step up for risky, sensitive, topical stuff.
AP: More than one of your writers has said that seven seasons in, you're running out of pop-culture things to reference.
MacFarlane: At this point, we hope the characters have gotten to the point that we don't have to lean on that quite as much. There's always new media and new pieces of pop culture emerging that you can make fun of, and so we'll continue to draw from that. But I don't think it's as much of a crutch as it was 10 years ago.
AP: But after the success of "Blue Harvest" (the show's "Star Wars" spoof), you're going back to the "Star Wars" well.
MacFarlane: It was so popular that we thought it might be fun to write the "Empire (Strikes Back)" episode; it would be fun to do. As we got into the "Empire" episode, we found that it's almost twice as much work, but we'll get through it, somehow, and it'll be great. It's like redoing the movie.
AP: Cleveland (a "Family Guy" neighbor) is getting his own series. What does it say about the state of television that Entertainment Weekly picks him — an animated character — as the cover boy for a story on African-American characters in prime-time?
MacFarlane: This is a guy who's played like a real three-dimensional guy — not just as a cardboard, stereotyped black guy. I actually would stack that show up against other shows about black characters in recent years because I think a lot of them are — they dumb them down for some reason. They talk down to their audience. We're just treating this like "Family Guy," like any other show.
AP: "American Dad!" has always been the stepchild of "Family Guy" in terms of viewers and critics.
MacFarlane: It's had a struggle. "American Dad!" has had a struggle. But now it's regularly beating "The Simpsons."
AP: Say, 20 years from now, what are you hoping people will think about Seth MacFarlane and "Family Guy"?
MacFarlane: I don't know. It also depends on what way television standards go. If the FCC continues to put the crunch on everything and things become more conservative, "Family Guy" may be viewed like "All in the Family," which would be like the greatest thing in the world for me. It's just about the greatest show there was. ... Twenty years from now, if they say the show is still funny, that's enough for me."